REALITY?: Of Breasts and Bums

Can I talk to you about. . . breast tests and colonoscopys?

What started it all was my cardiologist’s insistence that I find a primary care physician.  I’m not a doctor person so I’ve been able to make do with a pediatrician and graduated to a gynecologist whom I forced to look above my chest and below my knees which the patient man acquiesced to do for the past many decades.  So two years into my association with the heart guy I finally agreed to find a local internist and for the first time went to a regular doctor thinking I’d give my name, rank and serial number and never see again.  But she sent me for all kinds of tests. 

Now the mammogram I usually managed to stretch into four-year visits but of course, she ordered and made the appointment. I went.  I ended up having ultrasound as well (I have dense breasts?!?) and they found a node.  Oh no, I thought, recalling a double needle aspiration done six years ago which recall does not produce happy memories.  The needle aspiration was scrapped when the nice doctor got a look at the screen and proceeded instead with a biopsy that ended up taking it all out anyway.  Results negative, and I’m good to go for another year (or if possible, three or four if I can swing it).

Then, the dreaded word "colonoscopy."  Talk with friends who’ve had it done convinced me to cancel.  The gallon of stuff you must drink to clean you out tastes like potting soil, said one, so I should ask for the quick fix instead.  A nurse friend told me that it’s not as accurate and might entail another test should there be a question.  I opted for the gallon of potting soil.

It actually didn’t taste all that bad and there’s packets of fruit-flavors to add to the brew.  Unfortunately, the end mix tastes like lemon flavored Alka Seltzer which I’ve always hated because I can’t stand salty-sweet together.  (Note to pharmaceutical companies: include one packet of beef or chicken flavoring and you’ve got yourself a best seller.)  I won’t go into the particulars, but I didn’t bother putting my jeans back on for three hours between the kitchen and bathroom.

The colonoscopy was the easy part.  Really.  Here’s why:  they’ve got some good drugs.  I remember answering three simple questions and seeing what couldn’t possibly be my bum on the color screen and then being gently awakened and offered my choice of beverage and breakfast, choosing ginger ale and english muffins (the good ones, Thomas’ with nooks and crannies–how apropros) and getting dressed and flying out of there the second I saw my husband’s smiling face.

They gave me papers and pictures and instructions for a higher fiber diet–I did have a polyp which they removed.  No pain, no discomfort, no real embarrassment (I told them that while I may have farted while asleep, there was no way I’d be passing gas in their presence if I could help it, which strangely disappointed them).  Too soon the drugs wore off and reality returned but still, no pain and I’m just a bit tired.

So do it.  Make those appointments and get it over with.  The colonoscopy’s a ten-year thing (which is the only reason I agreed to it) and you’re bound to forget how bad that sh.. tastes by then.  I realize not everybody has insurance coverage on this but more and more insurance companies cover it as necessary preventive care.  I’m glad it’s behind me (no pun intended) and I’ll get on the Katie Couric bandwagon against colon cancer and doing whatever you can to catch something early enough to make a difference.

I hope I can find this post in ten years when I’m balking again at going.  But really, it’s no big deal. Make your appointment today.

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